Here is the second installment from our new series featuring stories from people who have helped shaped the Women Writers Project. Carole Mah (Programmer/Analyst, 1993–1999) shares some memories from her time at the WWP.
I first became involved with the WWP circa 1990/1991, long before people used phrases like “women in STEM.” While a student at Brown, I was working several jobs, including one at the computing lab help desk. Having become dismayed with the patriarchal nature of help desk work, I leapt at the chance when another student informed me the WWP was looking for student encoders.
The WWP and its coterie of students, staff, and advisers—along with the Brown Scholarly Technology Group (STG)—was instrumental in forming my personal and professional identity. The feminist and LGBTQ-friendly environment of the WWP and STG was always central to the way that I was able to navigate the turbulent coming-out process, and to vigorously engage in student activism and advocacy in a constructive way, which has led to enduring friendships that have lasted to this day. It was enormously exciting to be involved so intimately in the development of so many literary and technical advancements. In particular, I remember the anticipation with which we awaited the first release of the TEI Guidelines in 1994, and how gratifying it was to contribute to their ongoing development.
As an undergraduate history major with no formal education in computing to that point, I would never have gone on to a technical career if not for the WWP. I currently do web development at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The WWP (almost uniquely for its time) encouraged humanities undergraduates to embrace technology and computing in a natural, seamless way.